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Public Affairs 202: Databases

Database Search Tips

AND requires all specified words to appear in each document

          e.g. public affairs AND environment
 OR    requires any of the specified words to appear in each document
         e.g. influenza OR flu
 NOT  excludes terms not desired
          e.g. energy NOT coal

Combining ideas

       e.g. public affairs* AND (excerics* OR fitness OR physical activ*)
              (domestic violence OR family violence OR spous* abuse) AND (strateg* OR approach*)
  •         prioritize your concepts to begin your search with the most important one
  •         consider additional concepts to use, if necessary, to reduce or expand retrieval
  •         if the database has a thesaurus, either online or print, check for suggested terms


    Public Affairs Databases--Some Places to Start

    The following databases are excellent places for starting research in public affairs and communication studies. Databases allow you to search for your topic across thousands of journals in a single search.

    A complete list of library databases about public policy is available here.

    Having Problems?

    Not enough material?

    •           if you have combined several concepts using AND, start again and search only the most important one. Then add the next most important   one, and so forth
    •           look at each concept and see if you can think of additional synonyms (use OR)
    •           if you are searching free-text, look at your terms carefully and think of ways to broaden your phrasing


    Too much material?

    •         look at a sample of the items retrieved; if a high proportion is not relevant, add another concept
    •         sometimes irrelevant records may be eliminated by NOTing out a particular aspect or population
    •         try limiting by language, date, form of material, particular field instead of free-text